The Appeal of the Typewriter

The Appeal of the Typewriter

Sarah Coffey
Dec 2, 2009

Typewriters have made a comeback recently as a decor trend that's garnered lovers and haters. Some call them works of art; others call them dust collectors. As author Cormac McCarthy prepares to auction off his typewriter (which he used for 50 years to type 5 million words), the BBC takes a look at the object's many layers of meaning.

Authors who continue to work on typewriters include Don DeLillo, Will Self, and McCarthy, who used a 1958 Olivetti model (not the one shown above) that's expected to earn $15,000 to $20,000 at Christie's Auction House in New York this week. McCarthy used the Olivetti to type all of his works from 1958 to 2009, including All the Pretty Horses and No Country for Old Men.

The BBC interviewed journalist and novelist Lionel Shriver (who uses a word processor) about why authors would still use typewriters in the digital age. The main reason seems to be the typewriter's staying power. In other words, it's hard to imagine typing 50 years of literature on the same MacBook. Shriver explains, "It's more reliable, it's something you can understand. I feel a little nostalgic about it."

Cormac McCarthy to part with trusty typewriter from the BBC News
Interview with Lionel Shriver from the BBC Newshour
McCarthy's 1958 Olivetti at Christie's Auction House

Typewriters as Decor
Typewriter Prints
Remembering Ettore Sottsass: The Olivetti Valentine Typewriter

Photo: Olivetti Valentine from Etsy Shop PoeticHome, $590

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